First off let me say that Buck Point is an excellent golf course for the money. Greens fees on a Saturday morning in September were less than $40 for 18 holes with cart. We wanted to walk, at the same price, but they would not allow us to be in harmony with the course.
That said, lets get to the peanut butter. Buck Point Golf Club is a PB Dye owned and designed course near Brookville Lake in Southeastern Indiana. The Dye family are legends in Indiana, bar none. Buck Point is approximately 45-50 minutes West of Cincinnati and I finally made the short road trip to play there this past September with a fellow Golfwrx member. The cool thing about this course is that it was designed and constructed on a shoestring budget of $1.5 million peanuts. A mere pittance when it comes to golf course design and construction. It seems that PB got together with some old buddies and made this course happen.
When I see the initials "PB", two things immediately come to mind; 1. Hitting into that damn huge bunker on PB’s Moorland course in Myrtle Beach and 2. Peanut butter, which by the way my 9th grade history teacher, Mr. Gillespie, survived on while hiking through Europe one summer and showed us slides every Friday to prove it. PB took a peanut butter budget and serves up better than that as the finished product of Buck Point Golf Club. Many of the holes are serenely scenic and play right alongside Brookville Lake. Buck Point stretches out to 7100 plus yards from the tips, has many rolling hills and plays pretty much wide open on a majority of the holes.
The greens held everything hit into them and rolled extremely fast on a dew swept early September morning. The fairways were a little suspect, most likely due to the Midwestern drought and keeping them no so tight to limit the burned out areas that all courses around here have been suffering the past three years. According to PB Dye, "I built the best golf course on the piece of land that I could and just kept going," said Dye. "It is a very playable design. But there are a couple of par-3s out there that are tougher than yachts braid. Once this thing gets fully-grown in there will be no hay in play. I hate hay. We want to have people find the golf ball and play it. I tried to create as big a playing surface as I could. This is just a good old farm golf course."
Finding your ball was fairly easy and I agree, many of the par threes were tough as nails (especially #16), I was never a sailor, so I cannot say how tough a yacht’s braid is. Funny, I cannot ever remember a course being referred to as a "good old farm golf course" as Dye puts it. When you see the tee box yardage/hole layout markers, you’ll quickly get the idea. So how does an architect cut so many corners with costs? Well, they eat lots of peanut butter instead of organic, chef prepared, catered meals right? Not really. According to PB, "part of the secret of the low development costs were the scaled back construction methods used to build the course. The greens are all topsoil and less than 250,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to form the layout.
Dye also brought in his own shapers and equipment from other jobs to piece the construction of the course together." Additonally, they were able to save money by using Rain Bird irrigation heads that were bought for $5 a piece and buying mostly used equipment. It seems that it was PB’s mission to prove that quality golf can be built for less. In my estimation he truly succeeded here. This is as unpretentious as a golf experience can really be.
However, there are a few drawbacks at Buck Point. They desparately could use a quality, correctly sized clubhouse. A double wide trailer with a porch does nothing to attract golfers back a second time or to spend more money on refreshments. The power lines here are visually disturbing on many of the holes, especially on hole number two. Moving power lines is a tough chore, so we’ll let this one slide! Hole number 14 was really shoehorned in and offers no reward for a lot of risk for a very short par four that you can almost hit anything from 7 iron on up off of the tee. (see pic below) If you look very closely, you can see the stacked concrete on the right. The green is NOT driveable.
The second shot (that is of course if you are actually lucky enough to have one) into a green built upon huge, stacked highway concrete chunks really looks and plays strange. I am being picky though, if this course was closer to Cincinnati, I would surely spend my golf money here on a regular basis. In fact, they have a really cool, and huge, eagle flying around that literally buzzed us a few times on a green and a teebox. There is quite a bit of wildlife to be seen on and around this layout.
PB Dye? The PB could mean peanut butter. Overall PB, you did a damn fine job, especially with the ‘po folks looking hole markers. Pass the Skippy and lets play some farm golf! For more information, visit the Buck point website, www.buckpointgolfclub.com/.
Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy
Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.
Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.
The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.
The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.
Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.
I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.
The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.
Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.
Barnbougle Dunes: World Class Golf
We arrived to Launceston Airport in Tasmania just before sunset. Located on the Northeast Coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Barnbougle is almost as far from Sweden as it gets… yet it immediately felt like home when we arrived.
The drive from the airport was just over an hour, taking us through deep forests and rolling hills before we arrived to Barnbougle Golf Resort, which consists of two courses — The Dunes and Lost Farm — a lodge, two restaurants, a sports bar and a spa. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see much of the two courses on our arrival. I would like to add that both Johan and I were extremely excited about visiting this golf mecca. We later enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Restaurant before we called it a day.
The next day, we woke up early and got out to The Dunes Course as very first guests out. Well, to be quite honest, we weren’t actually the first out. There were a few locals — Wallabies, lots of them — already out on the course. The natural landscape at Barnbougle is fantastic and my cameras almost overheated with the photo opportunities. After two intense hours of recording videos and producing photos both from ground, we headed back to Lost Farm for a wonderful breakfast (and view). After our breakfast, it was time to try our luck.
Before describing our experience playing the courses, I would like to mention about Richard Sattler, a potato farmer and owner of Barnbougle. In the early 2000’s, Richard was introduced to U.S. golfing visionary Mike Keiser, who had heard about his amazing stretch of farmland in Tasmania and came down to visit. Mike convinced Richard that Barnbougle (which at that stage was a potato farm and still grows potatoes and raises cattle today) might be perfect for creating a top quality golf course.
After an introduction to well renowned golf architect Tom Doak and the formation of a partnership with former Australian golf pro and golf architect Mike Clayton, the development of the Barnbougle Dunes Course commenced.
Featuring large bunkers dotted between fun rolling fairways shaped from the coastal dunes, Barnbougle Dunes offers the golfer some tough challenges, in particular on the first nine. This is indeed a course that will entertain all kinds of golfers.
After our round, we looked back at some fantastic highlights such as playing the iconic 7th hole, a short par-3 called ”Tom’s Little Devil,” as well as the beautiful par-4 15th. We were just two big walking smiles sitting there in the restaurant to be honest. Lets also not forget one of the biggest (and deepest) bunkers I’ve seen at the 4th hole. The name of the bunker is “Jaws.” Good times!
As a small surprise for Johan, I had arranged a meeting after our round with Richard Sattler. Richard, ever the farmer, entered the car parking just in front of the clubhouse in a white pick-up van with a big smile un his face. We talked to Richard for almost 30 minutes. He is an extremely humble man and left such a warm impression on us. Richard explained the Barnbougle story: how it all began and the property today.
To me, this is a high-end golf destination offering something very unique with two world-class courses in Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm, both ranked in the top-100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (U.S.). With the courses located just next to each other, it’s probably one of the best golf resorts you can find down under and a golf resort that I would like bring my hardcore golfing friends to visit. Everything here is exceptional with the resort providing spacious rooms, comfy beds, good food and spectacular views.
Barnbougle Dunes is a real treat to play for any golfer and will leave you with a sweet golfing memory. Compared to the golf courses available on the more remote King Island, Barnbougle is accessible (given Tasmania is connected by better flight connections) and the hospitality and service at is much more refined.
The golf resort is one of the absolute best I’ve been to. I can also highly recommend playing Barnbougle Dunes; I had great fun and you can play it in many ways. Tomorrow, we will be playing and experiencing the other course at Barnbougle: Barnbougle Lost Farm, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course with 20 (!) holes.
Ocean Dunes: Golfing in the Wild Waves
On the last day on King Island, we were excited to see what its other golf course had to offer. While we first missed the small entrance to Ocean Dunes from the road, we finally got it right and approached the course on a small gravel road taking us up to the golf club parking.
When we walked from the car parking heading down to the temporary club house, we were facing large dunes and a beautiful big ocean. “What a site for a golf course!” That was our first impression. And after a quick look out on the short par-3 down below us, we knew that this would be a good day.
Ocean Dunes opened in September 2016 and is designed by Graeme Grant. It’s actually for sale at the moment, and if I had the money I would honestly consider buying it. It’s currently ranked as the fourth best public golf course in Australia. We met one from the staff before our round, and she told us that Ocean Dunes is like Barnbougle Dunes on steroids. Although we haven’t reached Barnbougle yet, we immediately understood that this was a good thing.
We later played 18 holes, and we were almost alone out on the course. I love that feeling when you’re able to play in your own pace and don’t have to wait. Just hit, look and plan for your next shot. It was a very windy day, and it wasn’t in the normal wind direction. A lot of our approach shots just wouldn’t stop on the firm greens.
My highlight from Ocean Dunes was definitely the fourth hole, a lovely and beautiful par-3 where the big waves crashed in. It has a Cypress Point vibe about it. I also enjoyed playing the third hole, a long par-4 (425 meters) that runs just next to the ocean with a tricky fairway sloping down toward the ocean. It all ends with a very complex green. It’s a great challenge from the backtees.
Overall, I would describe Ocean Dunes as a challenging, risk-reward course. It’s a bold and perfect complement to Cape Wickham Links on King Island. At Ocean Dunes, there are 17 holes with water views. All 18 holes have bent grass greens and a lot of variation. They’re highly memorable. We truly enjoyed our round and had a lot of fun. But if you’re able to visit King Island, it’s not fair not to treat yourself just to one course. You need to play both Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes.
The next destination for us will be Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm in Tasmania. They’re two world-class courses that looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen so far. I can’t wait to get there and share our experience. We will also meet the owner himself, the potato farmer Richard Sattler. Don’t miss it!
- Cape Wickham Links: The Treasure of King Island
- Cape Kidnappers: The Ultimate Bucket List Course
- Kauri Cliffs: Beauty in Green
- Tara Iti: A Golfer’s Paradise
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